The F1 circus is starting again! The first race of the new decade is finally coming. The pre-season testing, although completed 4 months ago, showed us that Mercedes is still the team to beat in 2020. The world champions have not rested on their laurels and pushed hard during the winter break. Their latest innovation is the so-called DAS (dual-axis steering) system which allows Mercedes’ drivers to adjust the alignment of the front wheels (from toe-out to neutral) from the cockpit. Whether this is a game-changer or not remains to be seen. However, FIA has already banned it for 2021 when their is a major overhaul of F1 rules.
Major driver changes have already been signed for next year. Vettel is leaving Scuderia, and most probably retiring, Sainz is taking Vettel’s place alongside Leclerc while Ricciardo is moving to McLaren. This means that Hamilton will remain at Mercedes almost certainly while Bottas faces tough competition.
The biggest talking point in Austria this week will be the pecking order of the cars after some development between Barcelona and now. Despite a necessary lockdown of the teams’ factories, all constructors will present cars we’ve never seen before. Has the 4-month break made the drivers rusty? I doubt it, but it remains to be seen.
Going back to the predictions, the model has not seen the pre-season testing data. The reason is that I have not found any data source providing these data consistently for the past seasons. As a result, rather expectedly the model predicts a Mercedes 1-2 for both qualifying and the race. Interestingly, Perez is predicted to start at P7 – a year when Racing Point decided to copy Mercedes’ 2019 car with the hope of being the best of the rest.
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